England coach Steve McNamara felt that the squad training camp held in Loughborough this week went very well.
He was also impressed with the way in which Leeds full-back Zak Hardaker has responded to his recent disciplinary issues.
“I had previously spoken to Zak about issues within the World Cup and issues he needed to sort. I got some really good responses from him and we both understood where we were coming from,” said McNamara.
“He certainly didn’t have a life sentence from me for what happened in the World Cup: there were issues that he needed to deal with and through a lot of hard work, he has gone a long way to addressing them.
“I know that Zak is also tackling the issues around his recent suspension, which was dealt with entirely appropriately by the RFL.”
McNamara also believes that training camps such as the Loughborough one help to bring players together, and foster the ‘two team’ mentality he wants to inculcate in his players.
“The World Cup squad was a very strong one, a very capable group of players,” the coach added.
“And we have got quite a few of those players who play in the NRL now, so we have got a really strong core group of players.
“But I think what we needed to add to that were some young players who were pushing to play in internationals, either at the end of this season or certainly in future years.
“I think freshening that group up, whilst maintaining its really strong foundation, was important for us. The door is never closed.
“In terms of moving on from the World Cup and on to the next competition, this camp was really important for us.
“With no Exiles fixture, we could have quite easily opted not to get together as a group in mid-season but it is not just about the on-field stuff that you do, or about the practise that you do to get ready for games, it’s about building trust and about building friendship.
“These players, every single week, go out onto the field for their Super League clubs and basically beat each other up – they hurt each other.
“It’s very important for our group of England players that they understand that we encourage them to go out and play as hard as they can against each other, but that there’s a connection still to England.
“The two-team mentality that we have driven for the last two or three years, where you feel that you actually play for two teams – your club side and England – is vital.
“We really emphasise the fact that they are part of another team and it keeps that trust with each other moving forward.”